Air stewardess poses with Seif Eddin Mustafa A new picture has emerged of an air stewardess posing with the Egyptian plane hijacker, as the mother of a British hostage also photographed with the man wearing a “suicide vest” branded her son’s actions “stupid”.
The health and safety auditor from Leeds was one of 72 passengers and crew taken hostage by Seif Eddin Mustafa soon after their EgyptAir flight took off from Alexandria on Tuesday.
As 26-year-old Mr Innes was collected by his mother from Manchester Airport late on Wednesday, she said “I don’t know why you did it,” according to The Sun.
Now a second picture has been posted on Facebook of an air stewardess also posing for a snap with the hijacker.
Cabin crew member Naira Atef is seen smiling and standing next to to the hijacker during the five-hour stand-off on Tuesday aboard the EgyptAir A320 jet.
The hijacker – 58-year-old Egyptian Seif al-Din Mohamed Mustafa – displays what appears to be a suicide bomb belt, which was later shown to be a fake.
Mr Innes, from Leeds, is said to have contacted his mother soon after the drama began on the flight to Cairo, which was diverted to Cyprus, to reassure her he would keep a low profile.
However, at some point during the five-hour stand-off, he decided to “throw caution to the wind while trying to stay cheerful in the face of adversity” and pose for a picture with his captor.
The snap, in which the hijacker can be seen wearing a khaki-coloured fabric belt with a series of pouches wired together, went viral after it was posted on social media.
“Mum was very upset seeing me, but I made it safe and sound,” he told the newspaper as he arrived back in the UK.
“The past two days have been crazy, unbelievable. But I’m here now and things can get back to normal. I’ll be relaxing at home with Mum,” he added.
Mrs Innes said that he had not posed for a “selfie” with the hijacker, who was described as “psychologically unstable” by Cypriot officials.
“You can clearly see that it is not Ben who is taking the picture,” she said.
The plane was forced to land in Larnaca amid fears of a terrorist incident. Cypriot authorities later accused Mustafa of diverting the Alexandria-to-Cairo flight.
He made several demands, including seeing his Cypriot ex-wife, with whom he has children. His suicide belt turned out to be fake.
The snap sparked an online debate between those who admired Innes’ humour and others who thought that the incident was not a laughing matter.
“I don’t know if Ben Innes has Twitter but Sir, I salute your indefatigableness,” tweeted user Henry Brubaker.
However, Jonathan T Gilliam wrote: “Ben Innes would be a hero if he had taken pic & sent to cops during hijacking. But he’s an idiot bragging to friends.”
A university friend told The Telegraph that the incident was “not a surprise at all.”
“Ben is a wild man and this is totally in character for him. He was a big rugby guy and very into his banter and didn’t have much respect for authority,” the friend said.
Innes was among the last of the 55 passengers to be released by Mustafa, who was remanded into custody on Wednesday.